Disco Inferno, 2008
silver mirrored plexiglass on rigid PVC
18 x 20 x 15 cm, 7 x 8 x 6 inches
Edition of 660 plus 6 AP
Christoph Steinmeyer_Disco Inferno Presentation on Friday October 31, 2008
Galerie Michael Janssen
Galerie Michael Janssen
(formerly Kochstrasse 60)
10969 Berlin Germany
Phone: +49 (0)30 - 25 800 850
Fax: +49 (0)30 - 25 291 592
Hanging from its chain, Christoph Steinmeyer's Disco Inferno slowly turns, glittering darkly. Casting a thousand points of light around a dimmed room, it appears at first glance a mirror ball, but, spinning, it reveals itself to be a grinning death's head, a replica of a human skull, meticulously tiled with countless squares of mirror. Bedazzled and bedazzling, it exerts a sinister fascination.
The skull has served as a memento mori from time immemorial. A reminder of the fleeting glories of the world and one's inevitable demise, it represents the ultimate symbol of vanitas, urging the pursuit of salvation amidst tabletops of drooping lowers and overripe fruit. The skull has adorned tombstones and ossuaries; it marks the province of wizards and hermit monks, and, more recently, of Goth kids and metal bands. Of late, its mortuary and foreboding perfume having evaporated entirely, it entered the innocuous, leveling realm of popular culture, appearing everywhere, from patterns on baby togs to Damien Hirst's diamond encrusted objet d'art (whisked away to a vault after its presentation, presumably, like the titular treasure at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, never to be seen again). Yet Disco Inferno sparkles balefully overhead, its conflation of the funereal to the hedonistic, death to disco, implying the inextricable association of the two, as if they were the opposing sides of a coin. Et in Arcadia ego.
Steinmeyer first created Disco Inferno in 2001 and over the last seven years, he developed differnt variations in sizeshas and color schemes. His latest version, editioned in a tongue-in-cheek number of 666, is once again human-sized and silver, paved this time in mirror squares with beveled edges that multiply the glints and gleams sloughing off the surface. The sculptures' proliferation suggests that their patently simple yet inexplicably effective fusion of mindless pleasure and implacable death continues to resonate. Steinmeyer's is an idea whose time has come and not yet gone, despite the ubiquity of the skull in art and fashion, despite the cliché of the disco ball, despite everything. And still the mirrored skull, slowly turning on its chain, glimmers in the dark.
Joseph R. Wolin October 2008